Aiming to take advantage of bank branch closings in urban neighborhoods, some check cashers are experimenting with ways to expand their service offerings to draw in more business.

In a pilot test that is to begin this week in the Bronx and Manhattan boroughs of New York, eight check-cashing stores will take deposits from members of the Bethex Federal Credit Union, which only has five branches and keeps some of them open just three days a week.

The eight participating check cashers have installed "point of banking terminals." Unlike most point of sale terminals, these machines accept deposits but do not handle debit transactions, and they are operated by tellers rather than customers.

When Bethex customers present checks at the participating stores, the funds are deposited in their accounts through these terminals, which operate on the NYCE Corp. network.

Henry F. Shyne, executive director of Financial Service Centers of America Inc., Hackensack, N.J., said his trade group has been working on the arrangement for two years with the New York Banking State Banking Department.

Mr. Shyne said the check-cashing industry generates revenue of $600 billion a year, and New York and Illinois account for 40% of the volume. While the industry is often criticized for charging high fees to poor people, Mr. Shyne said his constituents are trying to serve communities that banks have left.


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